The Office of the Opposition has written to the Director General of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) to ask for detailed information on all contracts issued to date under Council of Ministers Decision 16 of 2020 and State of Emergency Directive 20.
As an integral part of the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package approved by the former Government, the Council of Ministers agreed to allow the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management to temporarily suspend requirements for low value procurements in order to accelerate spending by agencies, and instructed the MIPU to accelerate implementation of the total VT5 billion already allocated in the budget for infrastructure development.
Subsequently, a list of priority contracts prepared by the MIPU was issued in State of Emergency Directive 20 from the Director of the NDMO to the Director General of the MIPU and the Director of the Department of Public Works to be implemented.
The objective of this policy was to speed up the spending of already-appropriated Government funds so as to immediately compensate businesses for the loss of “normal” business resulting from the COVID-19 economic downturn and to spread the benefits as widely as possible — between as many different companies as possible — for the greatest possible benefit to the greatest number of businesses and workers, to maximise the “stimulus” impact on the economy in general.
The Opposition is concerned, however, that this policy is not being implemented as intended. Firstly, the rate of awarding of these approved contracts is very slow: many of the contracts have not yet been awarded let alone commenced implementation.
The Opposition bloc says this defeats the purpose of trying to expend Government funds immediately to act as an economic stimulus. Secondly, the Opposition notes that works not listed as priorities are now being implemented and this begs the question what is the purpose and necessity of these unplanned works as opposed to those selected and listed by the NDMO specifically for their impact on boosting access of agricultural products to market and maximising employment?
Thirdly, it seems certain companies are getting the “lion’s share” of these contracts, as opposed to the contracts being given to as many different companies as possible to maximise the “stimulus” benefit to the greatest number of businesses and workers.
It seems certain companies belonging to well-known associated and cronies of the current MIPU and other Government Ministers are allegedly being excessively favoured in the current roll-out of works.
The Leader of the Opposition wrote to the Director General of the MIPU on the 4th of May requesting this information and wrote again yesterday reiterating his request.
Daily Post understands the PWD Director has responded to the Leader of Opposition yesterday afternoon, assuring him the Report is with him but it couldn’t be delivered last week because he was with the MIPU Minister and DG in Santo.